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It's 'destination India' for top global schools

Kalpana Pathak  |  Mumbai 

Come September, US-based Georgia Institute of Technology (commonly called Georgia Tech) will begin work on its research centre in Hyderabad. The institute is in the process of signing memoranda of understanding with several leading Indian and US industry and academic entities.

This top US-based research university’s is just the latest in a series of such initiatives by marquee names in the world of education. Early this month, the Punjab government collaborated with Carnegie Mellon University to set up a ‘Punjab International University’ near Ludhiana in a 35-acre complex. The initial proposal would have five schools in the university

Harvard Business School (HBS) decided to have a classroom of its own in the country for its executive education programmes. Yale University agreed to develop an India-Yale Leadership Program in areas like curriculum development, faculty development and academic planning. The Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD) is said to be firming up a plan before a memorandum of understanding is signed between it and and Yale later this year, when the latter’s president, Richard C Levin, visits.

As the government readies itself to introduce the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations, Maintenance of Quality and Prevention of Commercialisation) Bill, which will permit the entry of foreign institutions in the education sector, around 140 Indian institutions and 156 foreign education providers are engaged in academic collaborations for India.

Of these 156 foreign providers, 90 have university status and 20 have college status. Other institutions are training institutions or those for further education. The total number of collaborations was 225 and with each collaboration having over one programme delivery, the total number collaboratively delivered stands at 635.

Georgia Tech’s initiative in India is in the start-up phase, where two centres of excellence will be established at Hyderabad, in collaboration with Indian industry and university partners.

“These not-for-profit centres are in the areas of energy and information technology. Faculty and students from Georgia Tech and industry and academic partners from India are expected to work closely on research projects that are of value to India,” Vijay Madisetti, Executive Director, Georgia Tech India Initiative, told Business Standard from the US.

In November 2009, it signed MoUs with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad, and with the Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, towards establishing broad-based research and educational collaborating with leading Indian educational institutions. The courses to be run would fully be at par with those on its US campus. Efforts would be made to have degrees awarded by this university to be recognised in the US.

“We expect that a small but high-quality postgraduate educational program (where we can grant US MS/PhD degrees) can be initiated following the successful establishment of these research centres, subject to guidance from appropriate Government of India agencies,” added Madisetti.

Carnegie Mellon Chief Executive Officer Gil Taran said, “The cost of education would be a fraction of the cost an international student would pay in USA. Technical courses would be developed in connection with the needs of the local industry.”

Carnegie Mellon, which is rated amongst the top 10 universities of the US and is ranked best for its robotics department, has set up such state-of-the-art educational institutions in China, Doha (Qatar) and Kazakhstan, too. Institutes which have entered into such collaboration say around 75 per cent of programmes charge less than Rs 2 lakh.

“If we project that around 40,000 students are studying in transnational programmes and an average of Rs 2 lakh is charged per student, then the scale of financial operation is about Rs 8 billion and roughly is equivalent to 8 per cent of the total public expenditure on higher education in India. Thus, in terms of enrolment the scale of operation may seem minuscule; in terms of finance, the scale of operation is not too small,” said a professor who’s closely tracking the developments.

Experts say the highest number of collaborations is taking place in the field of management and business administration — 168 of the total of 635, or 26 per cent. The next most offered discipline for collaboration is engineering and technology/computer application/information technology, having 144 or over 22 per cent collaborative programmes, followed by hotel management and house keeping, having 132 or over 20 per cent collaborations.

Interestingly, these foreign collaborations are highly concentrated in Maharashtra and Delhi, followed by Tamil Nadu.

“At present higher educational institutions from the UK and US are showing maximum interest in collaborations with Indian institutions. The Indian institutions that are managed by trusts have the maximum number of collaborations, followed by those established under the Societies Act,” the professor said.

Of the 225 existing collaborations, 83 are with educational institutions from Britain, followed by 79 from the US.

Industry experts believe 53 institutions from Britain have their presence in India, followed by the US having 46 institutions in India, through various collaborative arrangements like twinning (exchange of expertise and students), franchisee, joint provisions and link programmes.

The highest number of collaborations of foreign institutions are with non-affiliated private institutions. Collaborations with public institutes is very low. Only three institutions of a central/state university and four deemed universities out of 140 institutions are said to be collaborating with foreign partners.

US-based education specialist Rahul Choudaha observed that while there had been international academic collaborations happening with medium to low-tier institutions in India, now there is increasing interest from more prestigious universities, too.

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First Published: Thu, February 25 2010. 00:57 IST